man driving while texting

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” Driver distractions include but are not limited to any of the following:

  • talking on the phone or to passengers in the car
  • texting
  • taking photos with a cell phone
  • adjusting the stereo or other entertainment components
  • configuring the navigation system

When you get behind the wheel of a car, you need to pay attention to the road using auditory, visual, and cognitive skills. There is also the manual component involved with operating a vehicle that requires just as much of your attention. Because safe driving requires complete focus, many states have declared bans on hand-held phones and other restrictions on cell phone usage for drivers to reduce road incidents.

Using a cell phone—in particular, texting while driving—is often compared to drunk driving. Texting on the road is even more dangerous than driving under the influence. People who text behind the wheel are six times more likely to be involved in a collision than someone impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Due to the high risks involved with using a cell phone in the car, some states have enacted strict laws about talking and texting while driving, though the specific rules vary.

State Laws Against Driving While Using Cell Phones

All states have enacted some laws against distracted driving. However, different regulations enforce state bans on cell phones for drivers.

Usage of hand-held phones. There are 21 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that prevent all motorists from using hand-held phones while driving. Colorado is among those states.

The ban on hand-held cell phones is a primary enforcement law. As a primary enforcement law, the ban states that a police officer may pull over drivers for holding cell phones and issue citations for it, even if the driver has not committed any other traffic violation.

Cell phones in hands-free mode. No state stops all drivers completely from using their cell phones. Drivers can still access their cell phones to talk and text using the hands-free mode. However, there are stricter rules when it comes to new drivers. In 39 states, plus the District of Columbia, it is illegal for novice drivers to use their cell phones at all, hands-free or otherwise—including Colorado.

There are stricter laws for newer drivers, and for two reasons. The first is that new drivers are still adjusting to operating a car and learning the rules of the road. Without the distraction of a cell phone, they are better able to pay attention to their surroundings and learning to operate their vehicle.

The second reason is that younger drivers are more likely to text than talk. While talking is still a form of distraction, texting while driving is even more so—and there are laws to prevent it. Texting makes it impossible to keep your eyes on the road, and while that impairs even seasoned drivers, new drivers are even more prone to road incidents due to cell phone use.

School bus drivers and cell phones. The topic of school bus drivers and cell phones is a particularly sensitive one, as they are responsible for safely transporting large groups of young people. Twenty states, plus the District of Columbia, have laws regarding school bus drivers and cell phone usage while on the job.

The law prohibits school bus drivers from using their cell phones when driving children to and from their destinations. This law is primarily enforced in several states, including Colorado.

Text messaging. Washington enacted a texting ban for drivers in 2007. Today, there are 48 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands that place a texting ban on all drivers, Colorado among them.

Except for Connecticut and New Hampshire, each state has at least one category designated for distracted driving on police crash report forms.

Positive Results from Cracking Down on Talking and Texting

A study reports that cell phone laws are successful in helping to keep roads safer. After the states enacted their texting bans, there were more than 1,600 fewer reported emergency visits from traffic accident victims per year on average.

The National Safety Council (NSC) analyzes data about distracted driving as collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2018, 2,841 people died in accidents caused by distracted driving. This number marks a 12% decrease from 2017 when there were 3,242 deaths. 2018 is also the third year in which distracted driving accidents have declined.

While those numbers can still be significantly improved, cell phone laws have proven effective in reducing the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.

The federal government has done its part to encourage states to pass laws that help prevent distracted driving. The federal government awards financial bonuses and incentives to those states that do enact laws regulating or banning cell phone usage by drivers.

On the other hand, those states that do not pass regulations risk losing funding for their highways. With these financial sanctions, the federal government sends a clear message to all states: Keep your roads and the people on them safe.

While not all states enact laws, the states that do have regulations are safer for drivers. The NHTSA’s 2016 crash statistics support this argument, reporting that nine states, including the District of Columbia, consistently enforced their cell phone bans for drivers. Those successful states are Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Nevada, and West Virginia.

In the same 2016 report, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina were noted as the top three states for the number of road fatalities. None of these states had laws against using hand-held phones while driving at the time.

Based on the information from the NSC and the NHTSA, the crackdown on distracted driving has been effective in keeping roads safer across the country.

Do you need a car accident attorney? Call the experienced legal team at Bell & Pollock P.C. at (720) 613-6736.


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Case Results


CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver. As a result of the motor vehicle accident, client was rendered a quadriplegic and needed a life care plan.
Outcome: $9,600,000

CASE: Against Insurance company for failure to pay for property damage after a gas and fire explosion.
Outcome: $1,600,000

CASE: Medical malpractice for failure to diagnose a descending aorta aneurism, resulting in death.
Outcome: $1,300,000

CASE: Neck and back injuries from car accident. Client had ongoing symptoms and needed injections for attempted remediation of pain.
Settled for $485,000

CASE: Client was injured in a 2 vehicle collision. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, concussion and multiple injuries to the neck.
Outcome: $6,000,000

CASE: Client was in her car and was T-Boned by a commercial vehicle. Her cerebral spinal fluid leaked and she suffered a concussion and traumatic brain injury with neck and lumbar (low back) injuries. Her neck injury caused radiating pain, numbness and tingling in her arms.
Outcome: $3,400,000

CASE: Client was driving on a rural road when another car crossed the center line and caused a head-on collision in the snow and ice. Client did physical work for a living. Both knees were injured, along with a neck injury.
Outcome: $2,300,000

CASE: Client was driving on South Parker road when another vehicle rapidly changed lanes and rear-ended the client. That vehicle was cited for careless driving. The collision caused a concussion with traumatic brain Injury. Client missed time from work and had a positive correlation between brain scan and neuropsychological test results.
Outcome: $950,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a dump truck, was then knocked forward and hit another vehicle. Client had a concussion with traumatic brain injury. Client underwent a brain scan which showed hypoperfusion, correlated with her concussion symptoms. Client suffered neck injuries and injuries to her low back.
Outcome: $650,000

CASE: Client was rear-ended. The mechanism of injury from the forces in the collision caused her neck injury and at the same time, damaged her organs inside her throat. Client had swallowing and choking issues.
Outcome: $1,250,000

CASE: Client was in a motor vehicle accident. Both injections in the neck rendered some temporary relief. The Injections were transforaminal epidural steroid injections. Surgery was recommended on the lumbar (low back). The low back was injured by the forces in the collisions.
Outcome: $933,000

CASE: The client was driving in her car and was rear-ended thereby causing injuries to her lower back and neck. Client also suffered a concussion. Client had to undergo facet injections multiple times, through multiple procedures. Client also had cognitive issues which required cognitive training and therapy.
Outcome: $400,000

CASE: Client was entering a highway from an on ramp and was rear-ended by a commercial van. Client tested positive for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and failed conservative treatment. Client underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgey, which involved removal of the first rib to attempt to relieve pressure in the thoracic outlet. Client also suffered a back injury.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver, who crossed the center line of the road. Client underwent multiple surgeries and could not work. Client was late 40s and needed a modified life care plan.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a tow truck driver who was a diabetic. The diabetic at fault party was a non-compliant diabetic and claimed he had a syncope episode, and was “blacked out”. Client had a preexisting back condition known and the forces from the collision aggravated, or made worse, the preexisting back condition in addition to, causing neck injuries.
Outcome: $350,000

CASE: Client was a passenger in a car where the driver fell asleep on a country road in the early morning hours. The car rolled multiple times. Client had eye injuries, facial injuries and neck and knee injuries.
Outcome: $850,000

CASE: Client was on the job, driving her own car, when she was rear-ended. She suffered a concussion with traumatic brain injury and pursued Workers Compensation Claim.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice in Central City. He suffered back injuries, that did not require injections.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice on a sidewalk in front of a business. She had to have knee surgery and multiple injections in her back.
Outcome: $175,000

CASE: Client was visiting a friend who was renting a house. Client tripped on untreated, dangerous section of deck and injured his back.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE:Client was rear ended and needed fusion spinal surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Outcome: $125,000

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Settled for $65,000

CASE:Client was at Denver International Aiport traveling through Denver, slipped and fell and broke her ankle.
Settled for $118,750

CASE:Client was exposed to mold in a multi-family dwelling that was caused by leaking water.
Settled for $125,000

CASE:Motorcycle accident, reconstructive surgery, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurological injuries
Settled for $1,275,000



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